Please help me get started with HA in a new loft - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-02-2013, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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My brother just bought a really nice new loft. I want to give him a gift of home automation for it. I'm fluent in about 10 computer programming languages, have some experience in electronic system design, etc. However, I have zero knowledge of the current state of the home automation industry.

The loft has lots of beautiful lighting tracks, all halogen and incandescent. There are currently 10 Lutron Maestro digital (non-wireless) master dimmers (MA-600) and about 15 slave dimmers (MA-R). I don't *think* any of this stuff is compatible with an HA solution.

IMMEDATE GOAL: We'd like to add to this a network/computer control bridge, a couple motion/occupancy sensors, and one daylight/photo-sensor.

LONG-TERM GOAL: Add temperature management. Add some habit/living-preference responsive features. He has a Sonos system and 5-room audio distribution. I'd like to integrate this too, although the existing separate control from phones/tablets is fine for now.

Can you recommend a product line for me?


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post #2 of 12 Old 09-02-2013, 04:38 PM
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Check out CQC (Charmed Quark). There aren't many control systems that can integrate with Sonos. I think CQC (pro and DIY options) has some integration, but not total. I think it's similar to other control systems, in that regard.

Spend some time in the CQC forum. Read a bunch, before starting the free trial.

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post #3 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Neurorad. I think Charmed Quark is software, right? If so, it looks like a good way to feel safe potentially installing professional-grade lighting control hardware that could otherwise be difficult to get software for; as well as having a path to integrate AVS control in the future.

Glad you were familiar with Sono control challenges.
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 04:47 AM
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As you suspect you will need to replace the light switches/dimmers if you want to automate the lights. And, you would still need that lighting control software. The master controller typically sends signals to the lighting controller, not the dimmers.

Many options for lighting control, software not a deal breaker usually.

UPB is a popular and relatively affordable lighting control platform, but I am not very familiar with it.

Edit - here is an overview of UPB - http://cocoontech.com/forums/page/articles/_/guides/home-automation-guides/automating-your-home-with-upb-r378

Is there an alarm system that you want to integrate?

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post #5 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 04:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again. I'm starting to get a feel for the lay of the products. I started my investigation with Lutron, whose website is obviously not DIY-friendly. It took a while for my brain to accept that Lutron had multiple product lines that are largely incompatible with each other. After that the available hardware solutions started to make sense.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Most annoying was that the slave dimmers aren't even compatible with RadioRA or Homeworks master dimmers. Almost enough to make a person move to another vendor, rather than buy all new from the same.
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 12:28 PM
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I may be misunderstanding, but wouldn't in RA2/QS a slave dimmer just be a scene controller? If so, they definitely have scene controllers for those systems. And they'd be able to control as many other lights as you want them to, not just one.

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post #8 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 05:30 PM
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No a "slave dimmer", actually termed a "remote dimmer" in their language is just a physical extension of the master dimmer switch. It is a dumb switch with no radios inside. Remote dimmers are compatible across product lines, even though they did go to the trouble of creating separate part numbers.
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 09:42 PM
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Yes, CQC is software. Search the CQC forum for Sonos, and lighting options.

http://www.charmedquark.com/vb_forum/index.php

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post #10 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 11:28 PM
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Here are the docs on the shipped drivers. There are others on the forum (and sometimes newer versions on the forum of the shipped ones if changes have been made since the last time the shipped one has been updated.)

http://www.charmedquark.com/Web2/ExtCont_4_x/ExtContent_Devices.htm

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post #11 of 12 Old 09-23-2013, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the heads-up on the part numbers, az1324! That's great to know, will save me about $800.

I'm still trying to work this stuff out. Seems if I go Lutron I'm not allowed to program it myself unless I buy over $20K of equipment. And then, I'm not even getting a firmware/software subscription, a VAR just leaves me the latest copy at that time. So they are kind of forcing me over to another manufacturer.

CharmedQuark is still on my list, and it was great to see that the two products I'm considering (Lutron RadioRA and Leviton Vizia) are supported by it, but until I get my fundamental lighting controls in and operational, I guess I'll put software choices on-hold.
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post #12 of 12 Old 10-02-2013, 12:02 PM
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Take a look at HomeSeer. Works great and you can design our own iOS Android apps. Supports most interfaces and protocols (with exception of Zigbee). It's way faster to setup that CQC. There's a Sonos plug-in for about $30 (I have 6 zone Sonos with it). Pretty much works out of box once you've added devices

Most of my stuff is controlled via z-wave, IP and RS232 (a few low-end X10 senesors for sump level monitoring)
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